Understand the Z visa process for teachers in China

Before you decided to teach in China, you most likely have searched plenty of information online. You might have read some stories on expats working there illegally then being arrested and deported from China. We strongly suggest obtaining a work visa if you want to work in China. During the interview, you should ask your agent or employer if they can provide a work visa. You need to be careful if the school tries to find an excuse to refuse to provide a work visa and assures you that you can teach in China through a business visa or a tourist visa. We can tell you with certainty that they are not reliable agents or schools because this is illegal and risky. The employers will only be fined for hiring an illegal foreign teacher, but you will be deported and will leave you with a negative mark on your record. This article will give you an introduction on how to apply for a work permit. Before obtaining a work permit, you need to get a Z Visa. Getting a Z Visa is a prerequisite for legally working in China. The Z Visa is only valid for 30 days. After you enter with a Z Visa, you’ll need to register at the local police station, then go to the local Foreign Expert Bureau and the Exit and Entry Bureau to apply for a work permit and a residence permit. After obtaining the work and residence permits, you will be able to officially start working in China.

What you need to obtain before applying for a Z Visa.


Step 1:Applying and Documentation

1: Highest Degree& Authenticated Degree

Either a bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate must be authenticated by a Chinese embassy or notarized in by your country’s embassy/consulate in China (only if you’re in China).


* You must bring the original degree and authenticated documents to China


2: 120-hour+ TEFL Certification/2 Years of Related Work Experience

1)Your teaching experience should be verified by your previous employer with a signature from a manager/director or an official seal of the company. It should also include the date and phone number/email (valid).

2)The 120-hour TEFL certificate must be notarized by a public notarizing service.


If you do not have a TEFL certificate? -----Link ( TEFL course)

* You must bring the original reference letter to China since printed documents are not recognized as the original. Your 120 hours or above TEFL must have an original paper certificate, and you must bring that original 120-hour TEFL notarized document to China.


3:Non-Criminal Record Report & Authentication of Non-Criminal Statement

You need to provide a Non-Criminal Record Report, background check or police check letter from the local police or a court or a governmental security department (example: FBI) in your home country. It must be authenticated by a Chinese embassy/consulate in your home country. This non-criminal background check (CBC) must be valid within 6 months of applying for your work permit.

Check your country for ways to obtain and authenticate it:

US Citizens – FBI

UK Citizens – ACRO, DBS, Disclosure Scotland

Canada – RCMP

Australia – AFP

* You must bring the original non-criminal certificate and authenticated documents to China.


4: Foreigner Physical Examination Form

Bring the Foreigner Physical Examination form to a local hospital and perform some basic medical examinations with the signature and seal of the hospital on the form. (An x-ray, ECC, or laboratory exam with attached test reports of AIDS, Syphilis, etc. are not required.)

*Please bring the original examination form to China.


5: Passport Info Page

6: Passport Photo


A recent color passport photo or a headshot photo on a white background will suffice.

Please note that all the scanned documents you send must be true and correct, in addition, all the soft copies must be scanned in color (some applicants have sent black and white print notarized document with a black-white seal, and their applications were rejected). If the original documents are in black and white, please inform the school before beginning the application process.

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Step 2: Z Visa Application


After you have provided all of the necessary documentation to the school, the school will do the paperwork and then submit them to the city’s Foreign Experts Bureau system.

After around 7-20 business days, the Foreign Experts Bureau will issue a notification of a work permit. Please note that it is not a work visa. This is a document that allows you to apply for a Z Visa in the Chinese embassy in your country, which will take about four days to get, so you’ll need to plan your travel arrangements before arriving in China: booking flight tickets, accommodation, getting cash and so on.

For teachers who are already in mainland China or Hong Kong, you can choose to apply for a Z Visa in Hong Kong or at Huanggang Port in Shenzhen. Before you try to apply for an entry visa in China, however, you must ask your school if you are qualified to apply for a visa on arrival. If you do not meet the requirements, you will have to return to your country to apply for a Z Visa.

How much does it cost to get a Z Visa?

The fee for the Z Visa is the same as other types of Chinese visas.

US Canadian UK Australia South Africa 140 USD 142 CAD 151 GBP 110 AUD 800ZAR


Necessary Documentation for a Z Visa Application in the Chinese Embassy/Consulate:

1. Notification of a work permit letter from the China Foreign Expert Bureau (Sample)

2. An invitation letter from the school.

3. A headshot passport photo.

4. Filling in a visa application form when you’re applying for a Z Visa in the Chinese embassy or consulate.

5. An ATM card to pay for the visa application fee.

6. Other required documents as necessary.


Please note that the Z Visa is only valid for 30 days. After you arrive in China, your school or your agency will help you take all of the documents to the Foreign Experts Bureau for verification. Therefore, you must bring the original copy with you. If you do not bring the originals of the above required documentation, you will not be able to obtain a work permit.

Step 3: Applying for a Work Permit and Residence Permit


After you arrive in China, you will have 30 days to obtain a work visa. The Z Visa is a single-entry visa, so you need to obtain a work permit and a residence permit. Your school and agency will help you to get your work visa as soon as possible. After you arrive, the first thing to do is to register your accommodation address at the police station around your residence, then you will need to go to the designated hospital for a medical examination. You will receive the results after around 5 business days. After that, the school will take you to the Foreign Experts Bureau to apply for a work permit and a residence permit. Depending on the situation in each city, it may take up to 7-10 business days for the residence permit application process. During this period, the Foreign Experts Bureau will retain your passport. After the processing is complete, you will get a work visa and can begin working in China!

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